Above all this is a love story. These two had found their perfect soul mate in each other.
Dick's diagnosis naturally threw Robin into a panic.
A friend who had known loss offered advice.
And this they did. Dick retired abruptly, struggled to hand off his patients responsibly -- and then turned to caring for how Robin would live after he would be gone. He insisted on their moving to a smaller place in an elder condo community in a nearby town, a residential development with plenty of community facilities and a lively Jewish community with which they could affiliate. And, somehow, they got the move done and all the little details of set up and decorating in the new place completed before Dick deteriorated so much as to be unable to help.
And meanwhile, in the short time they had left, they lived.
They had always loved travel and though they no longer attempted international jaunts, they still flew about the country visiting friends and family and enjoying theater and concerts.
And they found joy in the community that gathered to assist them.
Inevitably, eventually the cancer won. Dr. Richard Gross died at home with Robin, surrounded by family, two years after they had discovered the tumor.
Robin's story is harrowing -- and oddly inspiring.
This is not, perhaps, a book for everyone. Dick and Robin, as she portrays them here, lived in an apparently untroubled, upper middle class white suburban world. They performed traditional gender roles apparently without questioning. They seem utterly conventional. Yet Robin has shared a portrait of a relationship that feels exceptional in its depth, bravery, decency, and imagination.
I met them through unlikely happenstance. Robin and Dick were members of our party when we hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2002. Robin tells something in her memoir of how Dick saved the life of a Tanzanian porter during that high altitude ascent; I've told my version as well. Dick was a very special person -- blessed with a partner equal to him in the pain and joy of love.